HANGZHOU (China) • American swimming's new golden boy Caeleb Dressel emerged at the death to pip Russia's Vladimir Morozov by just 0.02sec and win the 100m freestyle at the short course World Championships yesterday.
The 22-year-old Dressel has drawn lofty comparisons with American swim legend Michael Phelps but he left it to the last few strokes to pinch a thrilling victory in 45.62sec in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.
South Africa's Chad le Clos, a 200m butterfly Olympic champion, took bronze, 0.27sec behind the tattooed Dressel. "I feel like I got better as the meet went on because that (100m free) was faster than the first day of the meet so I think I was getting better every day," said Dressel. "The speed was not quite there but, like I said, I think I'm in really good shape."
He did not have it all his own way in Hangzhou, having to settle for silver in the 50m freestyle - behind Russian rival Morozov - and in the 100m butterfly.
He got his revenge yesterday, the last day of competition, recovering from third place at the 50m mark to bring the United States their 13th gold medal and confirm their dominance in the 25m pool.
Annie Lazor made it a golden 14 by winning the women's 200m breaststroke and it was soon 15, thanks to Kelsi Dahlia in the women's 100m butterfly.
Dressel then produced a lightning third leg in the 4x100m medley relay to haul the US men to another gold - America's 16th of the meeting - with Russia in second.
The Russians got one back over their old foes in the men's 200m backstroke as Evgeny Rylov grabbed the lead late on to stun Ryan Murphy in a time of 1:47.02, 0.32sec ahead.
Cameron van der Burgh, the 30-year-old South African who earlier this week announced his retirement, signed off in style with victory in the men's 50m breaststroke.
The Americans got yesterday's session off to a bang by triumphing in the women's 4x50m freestyle in a championship record of 1:34.03.
And they ended it in much the same way, their women's 4x100m medley relay team clocking another championship record time of 3:45.58 for a 17th and final gold medal. Russia were the nearest challengers with six golds overall.